COAL MINE CONTROVERSY:
Eco-groups Black Warrior Riverkeeper and the Southern Environmental Law Center say they will continue to fight a permit issued to the operators of the proposed Shepherd Bend coal mine on the Black Warrior River, despite a recent legal setback. According to a July 22 news release from Riverkeeper, an administrative hearing officer in Birmingham recommended last week that the state Environmental Management Commission (EMC) uphold a wastewater discharge permit issued to the mine by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) in 2010.
The Hearing Officer’s recommendations will go before the EMC August 19, the release states. If the EMC adopts the recommendation, allowing the mine to go forward, Riverkeeper and the SELC will appeal the decision, citing the damage to area drinking water they say that pollutants from the mine could cause.
The groups say that even if Shepherd Bend adheres to the terms of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater discharge permit issued by ADEM, it would put a dangerous level of pollutants, including sulfates and chlorides, into Birmingham-area drinking water. The mine site is located approximately 800 feet from a Birmingham Water Works Board drinking water intake on the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior that serves about 200,000 people.
The University of Alabama owns part of the land that would be used for the mine, and Riverkeeper is asking those who oppose the facility to make their feelings known by calling the office of University President Dr. Robert E. Witt. For details, go to www.blackwarriorriver.org.
As Thomas Spencer of The Birmingham News reported July 8, a second, smaller mine is being proposed for the same area. You can read his article, “Company seeks permit for another mine near Birmingham water intake on Mulberry Fork ,” at www.al.com.
ANY GREY POUPON IN THERE?
Reporter Arvin Temkar went to Manhattan, to the trendy Upper West Side neighborhood of Morningside Heights, to hang out with activist Annie Deng and musician Gio Andollo, both of whom are freegans—people who attempt to live off the waste of capitalism and salvage food and consumer goods that are tossed while they are still good. In a July 8 post at eco-site www.grist.org, Temkar describes his adventures learning about the art of dumpster diving.
GOING LOCAL, GOING GREEN:
According to a July 21 release from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the group’s new report, Breaking New Ground: Promoting Environmental and Energy Programs in Local Government, is a resource guide for local policy makers and other advocates in the U.S. concerned with implementing sustainability initiatives. The product of a survey regarding what’s working and what isn’t among about 2,100 local governments, Breaking New Ground provides a framework for those seeking to implement effective sustainability programs in a tough fiscal environment and with competing policy priorities. The report includes case studies from nine communities, both large and small, across the country. Visit www.icma.org for more info.
DAMN, NOT THE SNIFF TEST AGAIN:
Germany’s Green Party is worried about the health risks of sex toys, according to a recent report in German newspaper Der Spiegel. Dildos and vibrators contain high levels of phthalates and other plasticizers, which can cause infertility and hormone imbalances, they claim. Some Greens in the German parliament are demanding that the government take action. They have written a policy paper entitled “Sexual Health as a Consumer Protection Issue.”
According to a report at www.independent.co.uk, there are ways for sex-toy users to find safe options. The report cites U.S. “eco-sex” expert Stefanie Iris Weis, who told iVillage that one should give sex toys the “sniff test. She says that if a sex toy has a “new-car smell,” don’t buy it. Instead look for toys made from medical-grade silicone, she adds. www.spiegel.de.